Cayman’s rugby players fought hard against stiff competition, but missed out on the chance of an Olympic spot on an action-packed weekend at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
Eight teams from around the region, including heavyweights Canada and Jamaica, descended on Grand Cayman for the men’s rugby sevens tournament. Six teams turned out for the women’s event.
The fast paced 14-minute games on a smaller pitch provided an entertaining spectacle.
Cayman’s squad experienced mixed fortunes over the course of the weekend, starting off on the wrong end of a 47-0 drubbing from a strong Jamaica side on Saturday. They recovered to defeat Guyana and lose narrowly to Trinidad and Tobago to finish third in their four-team pool.
That put them in a quarter-final match-up with Mexico, which they lost 12-7 after a tight game Sunday morning.
“We missed some big opportunities in the first half. I think we should have won the game to be honest,” coach Jovan Bowles said after the quarter-final defeat.
“A couple of things did not go our way,” he said.
The winner of the tournament, which was still going on at press time Sunday, qualifies automatically for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The second and third placed teams go into a separate world qualifier to be held in 2020.
Cayman went into the draw for the plate competition with the four other losing quarter-finalists. They defeated Barbados to qualify for the final of the plate, while Canada and Jamaica qualified for the final of the main tournament.
Bowles said Cayman could be proud of the job it had done in hosting the men’s and women’s sevens event. He said it would bolster the country’s efforts to host the Sevens World Cup.
“I think for the island as a whole it is a great occasion. To have 14 teams competing for a spot in the Olympics is massive. We have provided a good facility, good infrastructure for all the teams, and it looks like everyone is happy with the whole setup.”
Skipper Robbie Cribb, speaking after the defeat to Jamaica, said it was challenging to compete against such stiff competition. He said Jamaica and Canada, in particular, had more big match experience, and made teams pay for their mistakes.